Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Harold Camping Resource List

Here is a resource list on the false prophet and cultist Harold Camping. That guy has no shame whatsoever. Utterly despicable.

Paper: Science as Paradigmatic: A Critical Analysis of Thomas S Kuhn's Analysis of Normal Science

My Modern Paper is back. Here is the paper. An excerpt:

What is science? How does science work? With the advent of the postmodern era,questions and answers regarding science have also begun to change. In this paper, I would like to look at philosopher of science Thomas S. Kuhn’ view regarding science or what he calls ‘normal science’, and critically engage it in light of its implications and imports for the Christian faith.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Science and the fallacy of induction

Yesterday was the date of submission for my 2 papers (one research, one exegetical), which by God's grace I have managed to complete. My research paper was on the philosophy of science. More specifically, it was on Thomas Kuhn's idea of 'normal science'. Without reproducing the paper until after it is being graded, here is a small excurses into one of the problems of science as related to its supposed gathering of truth. (which incidentally is not on my paper, which is more philosophical in nature)

The issue is the problem of induction. Scientific arguments are almost always inductive arguments with the argument form as follows:

If p, then q; q, therefore p.

Logicians will immediately see this as committing the fallacy of affirming the antecedent. p is the hypothesized scientific theory of which we desire to know its truth value. Scientists come up with hypotheses of how nature works and tests them (at least in the classical idea of scientific methodology). Experiments are then set up to get a data set of measured values. If the values from the experiments match the anticipated values (q), then the conclusion is made that the theory p is right.

Scientists of course are not that stupid to stay with such fallacious arguments. Typically, they try through the use of double-blind experiments and other such procedures to confirm their theory. What they are attempting is to construct the argument to be as follows:

If and only if p, then q; q, therefore p.

While I am sure some instances the auxiliary experiments may be able to help construe the research project to form a logically valid argument (especially if the researcher is rigorous and meticulous in his experiment), nevertheless at a deeper level, are there assumptions built into the scientific enterprise of which scientists in general are blind to?

We would like to look at an elementary problem with science dealing with the fallacy of induction. Consider three data points from an experiment


How should we construe the relation between these two quantities x and y? This looks like a simple linear correlation, so we draw a black line through these three points.


The equation of that straight line is y=3x-1. Now, we have a problem. We can see in Fig. 2 a red curve that intersects the same data points and thus is a valid interpretation of the actual relationship between the two quantities. The equation of that red curve is the equation y=(4x2-4x+2)/x. The question before us therefore is this: Upon what basis do we discount one equation for the other? If you say that we should opt for the simpler equation, in an application of Occam's razor, then the next question is this: Why must the truth be simple? Why is Occam's razor a valid rule to be applied in this case?

Perhaps it is said that we should be more rigorous in our experiments and get a larger data set. Indeed, that helps. The best scientific research is backed up with lots of experimental data and attempts to cover every loophole imaginable. That is after all what being a good scientist is about. But even with all these extra research done and data possessed, can it still differentiate between two different equations?

Fig. 3

In Fig. 3, we once again see our proposed equation in black, and the alternate equation in red. Now however, we have a competing equation of the form y=3x-1+ 1/(1000-100x). Now, it can be seen that no matter how much data we have from 0<x<9 thereabouts, there is simply no way to differentiate between the two equations. If all our data points are within that range of x values, then we simply have no way to choose between them.

What does this tell us about science therefore? Science is limited. Science cannot give us the truth of anything. What science does is to give us a working description of reality (which is of course immensely practical in application), but it does not explain it. And the working description of scientifically derived laws are circumscribed by the limitations of the experiments, but we can cannot go beyond it. As I am sure it is still taught in classes on scientific methodology, scientists are not allowed to extrapolate their equations beyond the range of their data. For instance, in the initial data set of 3 points given, nothing should be said of anything with an x value of 4 or 5. If the data set has a highest x value of 7, nothing should be said of what the case would be if x=9.

This has implications especially for what is called 'historical science', which is the investigation of the past using scientific methodology. Since scientists are not and cannot be in the past, all of such historical science investigations are inherently fallacious. Most of them of course are done within the framework of naturalistic uniformitarianism, which as a philosophy is not science and is not testable. Translated into data interpretation, it is a hopelessly naive methodology which assumes that the simplest interpretation of existing data points must hold true in the past too. Thus, if we have the data set above, uniformitarianism simply assumes that the equation must be a linear one. If another data set seems to follow a quadratic or simple logarithmic equation, then that must be the right type of equation.

All of such historical science is therefore fallacious. Evolution is therefore not scientific, although evolutionary science is a scientific explication of the evolutionary metanarrative. The Big Bang theory, the theory of abiogenesis and others such are simply metanarratives that are scientifically explicated as to how the metanarratives may have played out in history. All of these commit the most blatant form of the induction fallacy, and their truthfulness can be legitimately disputed.

Christians therefore do not have to be intimidated by the evolutionists. Their science is done as an attempted deductive validation of their metanarrative, which we have no reason to buy into. If we reject their metanarratives of how things are and come to be, we can have confidence that the so-called entity called "science" is not on their side. As Paul Feyerabend says,

…the people who say that it is science that determines the nature of reality assume that the sciences speak with a single voice. They think that there is this monster, SCIENCE, and when it speaks it utters and repeats and repeats and repeats again a single coherent message. Nothing could be further from the truth. Different sciences have vastly different ideologies
—Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2011), 55

Science is merely an instrument and a tool. It is dumb and deaf and blind. Those who make science into their idol will be as dumb as the idol they worship. Amen.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Gospel as eco-justice?

Rachel Miller has posted an interesting article analyzing Redeemer PCA's Center for Faith and Work's (CFW) view regarding creation and redemption. It seems that Keller's view of "generous justice" is very much in line with the leftist view of "social justice" at least as interpreted by the CFW. An excerpt:

In an equally scandalous way, we are now commissioned as co-redeemers. Redemption is the re-orientation and re-direction of our culture-making capacities. It is we who have invented the twisted cultural systems that deface and despoil this good world; restoring creation to its lush plenitude and fecundity will not happen by divine fiat or magic—it will require the hard, patient, Spirit-inspired work of building well ordered systems, creation-caring institutions and life-giving habits. While not quite a matter of “save the cheerleader, save the world,” the scandalous economy of redemption does seem to suggest, “save humanity, save the world.”

I can think of no better picture of this than the sort of health-giving practices that Wendell Berry notices and celebrates in his recent collection, Bringing It To The Table: On Farming and Food. Consider, for example, his praise of Amish farmers in northeastern Indiana who are “working to restore farmed-out soils.” That is a compact rendition of our redemptive calling. Systems, institutions and practices have grown up that fail to care for the soil (and the animals who live from it); they leech it and steal from it without restoring it. The error—yea, sin—of such ill-gotten gain will show itself soon enough because such systems and practices run against the grain of the universe. Creation itself tells us what we’re doing wrong. Redemption, in this case, is tangible and concrete: it is rotating crops, spreading manure and being attuned to what the soil is telling us. Working to restore farmed-out soil is situated within a way of life—indeed, it is a way of life.

Thanks be to God, such redeeming, health-giving, cultural labour is not the special province of Christians. While the church is that people who have been regenerated and empowered by the Spirit to do the good work of culture-making, foretastes of the coming kingdom are not confined to the church. The Spirit is profligate in spreading seeds of hope. So we gobble up foretastes of the kingdom wherever we can find them. The creating, redeeming God of Scripture takes delight in Jewish literature that taps the deep recesses of language’s potential, in Muslim commerce that runs with the grain of the universe, and in the well-ordered marriages of agnostics and atheists. We, too, can follow God’s lead and celebrate the same. (Bold added)

Co-redeemers? Just where in the Bible do we see any human being or institution being called "co-redeemers"? I was of the opinion that Redeemer PCA is Presbyterian and as such believed only in one redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, and redemption limited to the elect of God for salvation from sin?

The distortion of the Gospel by the CFW and the embrace of environmentalism is amazing. TE Brian Carpenter in the comments section made a very insightful remark regarding the evolutionary basis behind this distortion of the Gospel.

You know, I’ve been puzzled by this “redeeming the creation” thing for awhile now, but I think I finally understand it.

If you are a theistic evolutionist, then the world is pretty much the same today as it was in the beginning. The only thing that’s changed is mankind’s “sin” of chopping down trees and paving over fields and not rotating crops and spreading manure. So “undoing” the effects of that “sin” is as close to the traditional understanding of Eden as the theistic evolutionists are going to be able to get. Any nitwit can pick up a shovel and spread manure, so that doesn’t have to be a Christian activity. Or it can be a place where Christians and non Christians meet and pat themselves on the back for being so avant garde.

We who believe that all of nature fell when Adam fell see this sort of activity as coming perilously close to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. In the most pristine rainforest (and perhaps there most of all) death and decay are rampant. To restore the rainforest might be a helpful thing, but it is not the same thing as redemption. Redemption of the creation will not happen until the sons of God are revealed, and the unbeliever will have nothing to do with it:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom 8:19-21)

And yes, Keller endorses Theistic Evolution. The fruits of the evolutionary paradigm is now manifested in the undermining of the Gospel. One wonder how long Keller will be accepted within the New Calvinist circles. My hunch? Indefinitely.